Monday, November 08, 2010

The Road to Livingston by Austin Documentary Collaborative

Help the Austin Documentary Collaborative (Chelsea Hernandez, Erik Mauck, Sally Bergom and Emily Visher) finish their first feature-length documentary!

"The Road to Livingston" follows one sister's fight to free her brother from death row. Her weekly 4 hour trips to Livingston, Texas during the past 12 years has led her to new relationships of others affected by death row, too.

After ten years, Delia Perez-Meyer still makes the four-hour drive to Livingston, Texas to visit her innocent brother on death row every week. At first saddened and frustrated by this journey, Delia discovers others unwillingly involved in the prison system who bring her to a place of redemption and hope. Though under the shadow of death, bonds are forged and families made on The Road to Livingston.

Over years of numerous trips, Delia has formed lasting relationships with people she has met on the lonely, 224-mile trek to Livingston, whether it’s at gas stations, or the Mexican restaurant where she stops for lunch. Being the only family member able to regularly visit her brother, she’s created a new family from this unfortunate situation.

On this journey with Delia, we encounter worlds we never knew existed. One of the most surprising is a group of European women who fall in love with death row inmates. Through Delia's interactions we learn more about why these women enter into such hopeless marriages. Preconceptions of love and intimacy are questioned when we witness a wedding of a Dutch woman to an inmate, performed at a local radio station. At first, this ceremony seems surreal and farcical, but as the vows are read, sincere emotion is conveyed both to us and over the airwaves to the unseen groom.

These women, including Delia, serve as voices for these inmates. They express the harsh conditions their loved ones experience. Prisoners are denied fruit and vegetables. Delia goes so far as to say they subsist on pig leftovers, donated by a local hog farmer. She tells of prison guards spraying misbehaving prisoners with chemicals, while their neighbors in adjacent cells inhale another's noxious punishment. Art supplies are banned, yet prisoners find a way to produce meticulous works without conventional tools. Louis and other inmates not only manage to make art, but Delia and other inmate families she has become close to, hold art shows to honor their work.

This film offers a glimpse into the world of those touched by death row. As an unaffected member of society our feelings of empathy for victims and their families are often limited. Our thoughts of the convicted go little further than the individual sentenced. This film shows the life-long ramifications dealt to families, friends, and lovers of inmates, as well as the communities that surround the prison system who depend on death row for their own means of living. Seen by society as already as good as dead, these people are suspended in time, trying to beat the clock and free their loved ones from the land of the walking dead. With most prisoners living on death row for ten years, Delia, with as many years of trips behind her, races to save her brother on The Road to Livingston.

Our goal is to open up the audience to the vast web of folks who have been affected by the prison system - as a victim or family members of a victim, friends and family of an inmate, or those who work in and around the prisons. Delia Perez Meyer is our personal connection to this world. She has been visiting her brother Louis on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston for almost 12 years. Through her story we hope the audience will gain a better perspective of just how big this community really is - and a better understanding of the struggles of the families of inmates, who become victims as well.

We are a collaborative of a few filmmakers who have been donating their time and energy in to shooting and editing this project. As the finish line has come in to view, we realize that there are going to be many expenses involved during the final stage of editing and post-production. We need some help in raising these funds and have come up with several donation levels that have various offerings of gratitude.

The Austin Documentary Collaborative is a group of filmmakers, each with years of directing and producing experience in documentary and narrative filmmaking. Every member's voice is heard throughout every stage of the process in order to be true to its collaborative name. ADC's Road to Livingston marks their first collaborative full-length documentary. The ADC is made up of Sally Bergom, Chelsea Hernandez, Erik Mauck and Emily Visher.

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